Eternal life was once the domain of magicians and alchemists, but today serious scientists are also looking for ways to prevent human life from ending, or at least later.
This research led a group of biologists at the University of California to find a genus of red fish in the Pacific Ocean. Among those red fish, some species actually die when they are 11 years old, while others reach a respectable lifespan of 200 years. Rohit Kolora and his colleagues wanted to know: Where are the genetic differences?
Scientists have done extensive work: They have mapped the complete DNA sequences of at least 88 species of red fish, both long-lived and short-lived. The The results of this extensive work Appeared in the scientific journal on Thursday Science.
Three hereditary secrets
The long-lived red fish seems to hold at least three genetic secrets. For example, they have certain genes that help repair DNA when it becomes defective.
During evolution, they were also more economical with genes that play a role in sensitivity to nutrients. These genes have hardly changed over the centuries in long-lived species, indicating that they are of great benefit to these fish. It is especially useful in a life of rarity. Genes can encourage fish to maintain their cells and tissues very well. This, in turn, means that they live longer.
Finally, the ancients among the fish had more butyrophyllins at their disposal: a gene family that combats the unnecessary inflammation that can occur in old age. In total, the researchers found 137 genes associated with longevity.
According to a comment in Science People can benefit from these ideas. “Humans live longer than most vertebrates, but the long-lived redfish may offer people strategies for improvement,” wrote J. Yuyang Lu and two colleagues from the University of Rochester (USA).
Jan Huijmakers, professor of molecular genetics at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam and the Princess Maxima Center in Utrecht, is more cautious. “You have to remember that the associations have only been found between certain genes and longevity, not causal relationships yet,” he says.
slow down aging
Hoeijmakers believes the new study adds to the growing body of evidence that DNA repair plays an important role in slowing aging. “When we were the first to post it, after looking for mice, we were laughed at because of it,” he recalls. “But this idea is now widely accepted.”
However, the Hoeijmakers had never heard of the role of butyrophylline. This is probably a new starting point if you want to combat aging. Although more research needs to be done first, more research needs to be done on other animals as well.
What is certain is that the moment is getting closer and closer when humans try to control their aging. Hoeijmakers predicts that “in twenty to thirty years, we will be able to influence aging.” Perhaps this study turned out to be a small step on this long road to eternal life.
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